Today, I published an article asking why we do not talk about love and intimacy with teenage boys. One survey I discuss in this article always elicits strong responses from my students, especially the men: it’s a survey that shows that boys in the US chose having a girlfriend and no sex over having sex and no girlfriend by two to one. Why is the majority response such a secret? And why does reading about it cause such a sense of revelation? Perhaps because as a society, we don’t acknowledge that it is normal for young men to value relationships. Read more here
Several co-authors and I recently published an article about science and sex education policy. We show a disconnect between the state of most U.S. sex education and a great deal of the relevant science on adolescent sexuality. There is a wealth of evidence, for instance, showing that gender equity promotes, and gender stereotyping undermines, sexual health. Sadly, most U.S. sex education policy and programming does not address gender equity or gender stereotyping. We hope that this will change!
In the Q&A following my plenary address at the annual meeting of AASECT (The American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists) in Austin, Texas, yesterday, a member of the audience talked about counseling adolescents about sexual health. He is a physician and realized that short of asking his teenage patients whether they use condoms when they have sex, he was at a loss for the language to talk about sexual health. Many physicians with whom I have worked have raised the issue of a lack of a “script” to talk with adolescents about sexuality in a more positive and comprehensive fashion. I have collaborated with my colleagues in medicine to create an educational module for clinicians that discusses the practical applications of the ABCD model for adolescent sexual health. The module: “Beyond Abstinence and Risk: A New Paradigm for Adolescent Sexuality” can be downloaded here. Other articles on the New ABCDs can be found here.
I have been following the media coverage of Not Under My Roof very closely. I have been especially intrigued by two articles. The first is Amanda Marcotte’s article on Slate in which she points at several signs that “truly comprehensive sex education [is] an idea whose time has finally come.” The second is Laura Stepp’s suggestion in the Huffington Post that the recent decline in teen births can at least in part be attributed to more and more parents addressing the topic of sexuality and relationships with their teenage children.
The first post-publication reviews of Not Under My Roof have come in. A review by Doug Ireland in Gay City News (Nov. 9) places the book in the context of the post-sexual revolution battles over sex education in the United States. Ireland recounts the intensely hostile political organizing in response to Judith Levine’s 2002 book Harmful to Minors (University of Minnesota Press) and then US Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders’ thoughts on sex education. The result of these battles has, he points out, been “particularly nefarious for queer youth” whose needs for protection from harassment are rarely met within high-school hallways and classrooms.
In this context, it’s courageous of Amy Schalet, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst campus, to offer up her fascinating and wise new book, “Not Under My Roof: Parents, Teens, and the Culture of Sex”…. Based on a blending of meticulous scholarly research and extensive interviews with both Dutch and American parents and teenagers — mostly tenth-graders — Schalet’s book, although not as deliberately incendiary as Levine’s a decade earlier, nonetheless amounts to a ringing rationale for the sexual autonomy of adolescents.
Check out my oped, “The New ABCD’s of Talking About Sex with Teenagers,” published today at the Huffington Post. In it, I address the following question:
How can American parents and other adults talk with teenagers about sexuality and romantic relationships in more positive terms, while bolstering young people’s capacities to protect themselves against potential negative experiences and consequences?